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 | Email  | Office hours: Monday- Friday 8:30am - 5:30pm 

Digital Transformation Event Talk

Digital Transformation Events for B2B Companies

By Jennifer Esty  |  February 14, 2016

We still have places available for our free digital transformation event in Reading on June 9.

Join us for an evening with industry experts from Google, Act-On, and Sharp Ahead to:

  • Understand the digital transformation opportunities available for your business
  • See how paid search can quickly enhance your digital presence
  • Explore the impact marketing automation software has on efficiency
  • Hear first-hand how Oxford Innovation digitally transformed their organisation

(Not to mention networking, nibbles and drinks.)

Designed for marketing and sales decision makers, this digital transformation event will take place in Reading on June 9.

The event will begin at 6pm.

More about the digital transformation events speakers:

Google Logo

Hear directly from the experts at Google how digital marketing can quickly and effectively drive awareness, influence purchase consideration and increase sales.

Act-On Logo

Marketing Automation experts Act-On will take you through the new buyer’s journey, focusing on the stages of modern marketing and how to turn your customers into advocates for your products and brand. He will provide top tips for content marketing, email marketing, lead nurturing, marketing automation and more.

Oxford Innovation Logo

Find out how Oxford Innovation achieved a 90% reduction in client acquisition costs, a 400% increase in qualified sales leads and are 110% ahead of target for sales.

We surveyed the digital presence of over 500 UK B2B companies. Based on this we think most B2B digital marketing in the UK is broken – that is, poorly done and hurting sales. Dr John Woods will present the survey findings along with quick fixes that B2B digital marketers need to know.

Contact us to book your place or read the 2016 Broken Report.

B2B Remarketing Banner Tip

How Remarketing Works in B2B

By John Woods  |  January 13, 2016

Now that you’ve visited the Sharp Ahead website, you will probably begin to see quite a few remarketing adverts for Sharp Ahead. These ads are thoughtful, yet don’t contain a call to action as they exist to build the Sharp Ahead brand.

Deciding upon a B2B digital marketing agency takes time in order to conduct research. During this period, you will become more familiar with the Sharp Ahead brand, and when you begin to make a short list of the agencies that you are considering working with, this familiarity with our brand will help to ensure that Sharp Ahead are on that list.

Remarketing is just one part of a wider marketing strategy that should be adopted for digitally mature or maturing companies. It is the most cost effective way of building your brand and reaching millions of potential clients:

“Google Display Network reaches 90% of Internet users worldwide, 65% of whom they reach every single day. More than a trillion impressions are served to over 1 billion users every month (source: Google). Meanwhile, Facebook has more than 1.4 billion users, over a billion of whom logged in yesterday (source:Facebook).”

Person on their phone drawing the search results

5 Ways to Improve Your Customer’s Search Experience

By John Woods  |  December 2, 2015

Google is now your home page and just like your website your Google search engine results page it needs investment, specifically to ensure that when people are searching for your brand term they get an experience as well managed as walking into your companies head office reception. Here are 5 things you can do within a week to improve your customers search experience:

1) AdWords – Start using AdWords

A well managed AdWords campaign for your branded search terms is akin to having good receptionist who will guide visitors to what they are looking for.

2) Complete Google My Business

If you do a brand search and a box appears on the right with a question under it “Are you the business owner?” click it! And claim your Google My Business, this will help customers find your business online and in the real world as well as ensuring your business has influence over another part of the SERP for your brand.

3) Get a SlideShare account on LinkedIn

Upload presentations to it to your Slideshare account. Make sure the content is good so people download and share. Google tends to rank SlideShare links highly for branded search terms.

4) Manage your Google Sitelinks

1: The main search result

2: Sitelinks

Google uses an algorithm to automatically select site links it thinks will be helpful to your customers, but it sometimes gets it wrong and when it does you can demote Sitelinks so Google won’t show them.

5) Get a Twitter account

Google typically ranks well managed Twitter accounts highly for branded search terms.

(Bonus) 6) Get a Wikipedia page

This isn’t possible for some companies because Wikipedia has a policy of only including articles that are ‘notable’. But if your company does qualify you may seen an uplift in your branded SEO because of a backlink on your brand search term from Wikipedia.

Ready to find out more? Please call on 01189 001920.

Various charts next to a keyboard

What Sales Needs from Marketing in B2B Companies

By John Woods  | 

Every organisation is different, this is a generic list designed to provide insight on the sort of activities marketing should be providing to generate qualified sales leads.

Please click here for your free printable Marketing Activities Checklist.


Respond to social media: Use a social media monitoring tool (we use Act-On’s Prospecting tool) to place alerts for our brand, our competitors brands and keywords about our offerings. It’s simple, help people find the information they are looking for and some of them will turn into sales leads.

Respond to brand advocates: When a client talks about our brand respond, it makes them feel good, us feel good and builds trust with potential clients.

Follow your customers and promote their success on social.

Don’t use automated tweets: It’s faux, be authentic.

Post upwards of six tweets a day, two Facebook and three LinkedIn responses/shares/updates.


Post at least one blog/case study/white paper per week, but if there is nothing to write about we don’t write a substandard idea just to meet a target.

Summary report on lead generation from marketing blogs, case studies, white papers and social media. The Marketing team will need Marketing Automation software to do this.


Detailed report on lead generation from marketing blogs, case studies, white papers and social media. The Marketing team will need Marketing Automation software to do this.

Attend networking events – not everything happens online! Aim to speak at one event every three months as a minimum. Record the talk and put it on YouTube and SlideShare. This will improve your customers search experience.


Review marketing strategy and amend as requited.

Set goals for next quarter, ensure goals are matched to capability to deliver, adjust goals or capability if there is a disparity.


Implement a marketing automation solution.
Align skills of marketing department with needs of business.

Ready to find out more? Please call on 01189 001920.

Graphical Demonstration of Searching

Five reasons your B2B paid search campaigns failed

By John Woods  |  May 4, 2015

Paid search – which usually means Google Adwords, sometimes in combination with other search channels like Bing Ads or Baidu – is a key part of most of the B2B marketing projects we work on at Sharp Ahead. We love it because it delivers great results for our clients – both incremental new business leads and increased conversions from leads sourced from other channels. And don’t let the “paid” part put you off. Used well, paid search is amazingly cost effective. Once you account for the time and effort costs of so-called “free” traffic (from SEO, social media and other forms of content marketing), paid search is likely to give the best ROI of all B2B digital marketing channels.

But there’s a paradox. With many of our new clients we find ourselves having a conversation like this:

Sharp Ahead: “We’re going to be using paid search as a key part of our lead generation strategy.”

Client: “Really? We tried paid search a while back and it didn’t work for us. We wasted a lot of money and gave up on it.”

We hear this story of “we tried paid search and it didn’t work so we gave up” again and again, but the contrast with our own work couldn’t be more stark. Done well, paid search delivers excellent results for almost every B2B digital marketing challenge. So why this difference in experience?

Paid search is complex and there are a lot of ways to get it wrong without even knowing it. Here are some of the key reasons why your previous paid search campaigns might have failed:

1. Not niche = not nice

It’s easy to set up a paid search campaign based on too broad a set of keywords. You’ll get lots of impressions and lots of clicks – and inevitably spend lots of money. But your B2B marketing proposition is specialist, so you should be focusing on long-tail keywords and highly specific search terms. If your keywords are too broad, most of the people who see your search ads won’t be good buyers. You’ll spend a lot of money on worthless clicks and your campaign will give poor value. A campaign that converts needs to target niche keywords.

2. Geographic gotchas

It’s likely that there will be some important geographic factors around your B2B proposition. Perhaps you only sell in particular regions, or you have a different story to tell depending on where the prospective customer is based. One of the most powerful things about paid search is the very fine and subtle control it gives you over geography. You can run ads only within very specific geographic regions, or exclude geographies that are not of interest, and show different ads to people in different geographic regions.  If you run a campaign without using these geographic controls, most of your ads will show to the wrong people and the consequences are the same as if you chose keywords that are too broad – wasted spend and poor results.

3. Poor persuaders

Ad copy really matters in paid search, and it’s a tricky art. It might seem easy – after all, there are just a few characters to play with – but crafting good search ad copy is a real skill. If your ad isn’t well written, it won’t get clicks from quality prospects and your campaign won’t deliver a return. This isn’t just about mass appeal: you need to craft an ad that attracts the attention of the niche market segments that are the potential buyers of your B2B proposition. And, of course, you need your ad copy to align with your brand positioning.  Remember, your ad needs to compete for attention with both your competitors’ ads and the natural search listings on the results page, so it has to get its message across effectively in order to get results.

4. Landing is lacking

So you choose good keywords, pick the right geographic options and write great ad copy. You get some great clicks. And you send them to your HOME PAGE? D’oh.  A great paid search campaigns needs great landing pages, with information that both clearly defines your business proposition and that is relevant to your advert copy – all within the first click. You won’t sell to anyone unless your landing pages give your potential customers the information, the persuasion and the opportunity for them to take action.

5. Measurement muddles

The last reason for campaign failure sounds crazy, but it’s a real issue: your campaign DID work and you just didn’t know it! How could that happen? Several ways, but one of the most common in B2B lead generation is that people see your paid search ad and it drives them to pick up the phone. (Seriously-engaged B2B buyers like the phone; it’s a time-efficient way to communicate and it lets them judge your company via a real human interaction.) It’s likely that you get inbound phone enquiries all the time from all sorts of sources, so unless you’ve taken special steps to keep track of paid search enquiries (like showing a unique phone number with paid search ads), you won’t be able to attribute results to your campaigns. In a recent campaign we found 80% of paid search enquiries came via inbound phone calls, with only 20% filling in the contact form on the landing page. Without sophisticated tracking and analysis tools in place, it would have been easy to misjudge the results and mistake a winning campaign for a failure.

Did you make any of those mistakes in a previous failed paid search campaign? If so, perhaps you should give paid search another try.

Ready to find out more? Please call on 0118 322 4395.

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